The staffs of Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Grassley will meet today for the first time on this issue in an effort to resolve the outstanding issues
(PRWEB) September 17, 2010
Washington, DC Virginia farmer John W. Boyd, Jr., now on the second day of a high-profile tractor ride through Washington, DC throughout September, held a press event in front of the White House today, the same day two important leaders in Congress take another step toward resolving the Black farmers issue.
Boyd will press the Administration to help push the U.S. Senate to pass $1.15 billion in funding for the black farmers discrimination case settlement. Congress previously approved $100 million out of the total $1.25 billion settlement. The settlement is contingent upon passage of the total funding and therefore farmers continue to wait for justice.
"The staffs of Senators Harry Reid and Chuck Grassley will meet today for the first time on this issue in an effort to resolve the outstanding issues," Boyd said. "This is a promising development and I hope this represents another step closer to passing the funding needed to resolve Black farmers case. We need both the Democrats and Republicans to be flexible and willing to commit to getting this done together."
"I am asking the Senate Leadership to compromise on the offsets and do whatever it takes to get the black farmer settlement funded. They need to act immediately to fund this settlement, people are dying before they see justice for discrimination," Boyd said ahead of his trip. "These are documented cases of discrimination and each case needs to be heard and resolved. "
On Thursday, Boyd rode his tractor through DC and was greeted on Capitol Hill by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) as well as his own Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA). Boyd says this strong public show of bipartisan support is essential to getting action in the Senate before the Senate recesses in October.
Boyd plans to make the tractor ride to Capitol Hill each day the Senate is in session, until Senators recess in October.
Boyd, the founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, has become a recognized figure in Washington, DC for his years of advocacy on behalf of tens of thousands of active black farmers as well as those forced from farms as a result of decades of discrimination by the US Department of Agriculture.
"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have both told me personally, on multiple occasions, that they support resolving and funding this case," said Boyd, adding, "This is an issue the Democrats and Republicans agree needs to be resolved and that funding for this case has already been accounted for. I have heard from so many people around this country in recent weeks, including conservative and progressive figures, who believe this is a matter of national importance. Justice in this case should know no partisan boundaries."
Boyd welcomed supporters, Members of Congress, and journalists to join his regular tractor rides each day.
President Obama reaffirmed his support for black farmers at a press conference on Friday, September 10, saying: "It is a fair settlement. It is a just settlement. We think it's important for Congress to fund that settlement. We're going to continue to make it a priority."
On February 7, 2010 The New York Times editorial wrote that the government needs to resolve the "historic injustice" involving the Black farmers. And on September 3, 2010 The Washington Post editoria l said, "The White House and Congress should work diligently" to fund the settlement.
Twice the House of Representatives has passed a measure to pay for this settlement, yet the legislation languishes in the Senate having failed no less than seven times. Boyd says the measure has bipartisan support in the Senate, and the issue has been championed by leading figures in both parties. The measure is fully funded offset, meaning it will not add to the deficit. The settlement agreement requires federal funding to pass before the neutral arbitrator process commences. This will ensure farmers have their cases heard.
Sen. Reid has previously noted, "It's often said that justice delayed is justice denied. The time for delay has passed. Now it's time for us to close every last one of these cases, once and for all."
Representing the bipartisan and bicameral support the settlement has received, House Minority Leader John Boehner has said, "This issue has gone on for almost the 20 years that I've been here, and it needs to be resolved."
Boyd is urging NBFA members and the general public to contact Senate leadership and the Senators from their home states to ask them to fund the black farmers settlement. To contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid about the settlement, please call (202) 224-3542. To contact Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, please call (202) 224-2541. To reach other Senators, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.